Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Week in Mississippi

It’s the two year anniversary of Katrina. Two years ago today we were in our minivan, headed away from the terrible unknown, to the safety of family in Maryland. I’m trying not to dwell on it (too much), on the phenomenal failures of initiative and post-disaster planning, on the politicized quagmire, on the losses and missed opportunities. Instead, I present two news items from Mississippi. One is Katrina-related, one is not. I wonder if this will be all you hear about Mississippi this week; have we officially been written out of the Katrina story, as reported in the national press? Prove me wrong, people; prove me wrong.

(1) Mississippi is the fattest state.

Big surprise. Mississippi is also one of the poorest states. The cynics might scoff, “how can you be fat if you’re poor?” But there’s a difference between too poor to eat healthy, and too poor to eat. Fruits and vegetables are not cheap. Taco Bell, 2-liters of Coke, bags of Cheetos, and TV dinners are very cheap. Fried chicken, pork products, and bacon grease come from the cultural and historical roots of Southern cooking, using the cast-off parts and ingredients—again, directly related to poverty and lack of better resources.

Last week I was in the grocery looking for a post-lunch snack. Big ripe Georgia peach: $1.00. 5-ounce bag of Fried Somethings: $1.00. The Fried Somethings would have filled me up more, lasted longer. I did the healthy thing and had that scrumptious, juicy peach. But on a strictly cost basis, the Fried Somethings would have been a better buy. Unless Frito-Lay decides to raise its prices and sell fewer chips, taking a profit cut for the good of society—or if farmers decide to cut their prices and take a profit cut for the good of society (and in the process, go out of business, unless for government subsidies)—then I guess that’s that. Pity.

(2)How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?

Reprinted from Waveland Ward 1 Newsletter, from Alderman Lili Stahler:
“An update on the ongoing projects are as follows:
Phase 1 Sewer & Water South of the tracks : completion October ‘08
Phase 2 Sewer & Water South of the tracks : completion January ‘09
Street Replacement South of the tracks : completion February ‘09
Water North of the tracks : completion May ‘08
Sewer North of the tracks : completion June ‘09
Gas : completion October ‘07
Garfield Ladner Pier : completion October ‘08
Library : completion October ‘08"

Four years. It apparently takes three to four years to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop…er, I mean, rebuild the basic infrastructure of a town in these United States of America. Alderman Stahler writes, “Think back to last year at this time. How far we have come!!”

Yes, indeed. Oh, the Thinks you can Think.


Incidentally, a friend of mine is being featured on Oprah’s “Ask Dr. Oz” segment tomorrow (8/29), as well as on the Weather Channel, discussing Katrina experiences. I haven’t seen the interview, but I know the story, and it’s worth seeing if you can.

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